Spain Sack Lopetegui On Eve Of World Cup

Florentino Perez and Zidane

Florentino Perez and Zidane

Spain sack manager Julen Lopetegui just one day before the start of the 2018 World Cup and two days before they are due to begin their campaign against Portugal.

On Wednesday, Spain delayed a press conference at the Krasnodar Stadium by well over an hour before Spanish FA president Luis Rubiales announced the decision. (We were told) just five minutes before the press release.

"So I think everybody will be happy with it, but mostly because Real were surprised by the departure of Zidane and had to react as soon as possible".

Rubiales, who took over as president last month, said the federation's values were broken and it was the only decision he could make.

Rubiales said the players, who Spanish media said had tried to dissuade him from such drastic action, had vowed to give everything for the team. "We have been compelled to make this decision".

The announcement comes just three days before Spain plays its first match in the upcoming Russian World Cup 2018.

There were fears his appointment could open up old divisions between the Real Madrid and Barcelona factions in the Spain squad. Lopetegui had on May 22 renewed his contract as Spain coach until 2020.

"We have to chose to fire the national coach [Lopetegui]".

His first task will be to ready the team for their opening game in Sochi on Friday, which will see them take on European champions and Iberian neighbours, Portugal.

"I do not feel betrayed because Julen has done a relentless job, but we are forced to move on this because of how things have been done".

"Fernando Hierro will assume coaching responsibilities at the World Cup in Russia", the Spanish football federation announced.

The Spanish FA felt Lopetegui acted unprofessionally for agreeing a deal to join Real Madrid after the World Cup ends in July - so it fired him.

The World Cup will kick off in Russian Federation on Thursday and bring the "greatest show on earth" to the Kremlin's doorstep.

"I admire and respect Lopetegui a lot".

Spain's players, led by national team and Madrid captain Sergio Ramos, were reportedly in favour of Lopetegui staying on for the tournament.

We wish you the greatest of luck. Rubiales repeatedly dodged questions over whether he had taken their advice before making the decision to fire the coach.

Rubiales insists there was no other option but to part ways with Lopetegui, who has never lost in 20 games in charge of La Roya.

Rubiales took over a federation which was in the hands of embattled official Angel Maria Villar for almost three decades.

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